information system

Getting real: introducing Blue Dragon

Urban Care Active got real. Since last July, we have started a long-term collaboration with Blue Dragon.

About Blue Dragon

Blue Dragon is an Australian NGO working exclusively in Vietnam. It is based in Hanoi, and has been in operation since 2003. It works with street-kids, trafficked children, and disabled youth. It offers inclusive education programs, long-term shelter solutions, and anti-trafficking activities with the active support of the Vietnamese police forces. They are active in Hanoi, Hue, Bac Ninh, and now in Dien Bien.

I sort of love this NGO. They work at the grassroots level, for real, and engage in direct implementation, a bit old-school yes, but so concrete. Its founder, Michael Brosowski, is a strong leader with a long-term vision, and a practical sense of realities.

Blue Dragon is funded through multiple channels, direct individual donations, corporate support, and international donors. It had a stupendous growth over the last 5 years and is now considering options to sustain its action and structure in this new decade.

How we chose Blue Dragon

I’ve known about this NGO for a while now. My first encounter with them took place about 4 years ago, when I was working with Médecins du Monde. We had a program dedicated at kids at risk of getting infected by HIV. At that time, I met an operational manager of theirs, and introduced our activities. We offered a collaboration and possible funding. And they turned down our proposition, because it was not clearly a part of their strategy and felt they didn’t have the means to give us the level of action we were expecting at that time. MdM was a very strong public health operator in Vietnam, and they knew they had too little expertise in that domain to be a fair partner. In short, they said no, because of their work ethic, despite funding opportunities. I was so impressed. If you had any experience with NGOs, you would admit there are just so many “paper”-CBOs and grassroots NGOs chasing funds with a strategy limited to “getting money”, regardless of the line of work. Clearly, Blue Dragon was not one of those.

Later, after Urban Care was created, I continued keeping an eye on this NGO, and others in the city. The plan was at some point to give long-term support to an NGO meeting the following criteria:

▪   Most of the operations have to be carried out in urban settings;

▪   Programs have to be dealing with youth OR the elderly;

▪   Programs have to touch on health, education or nutrition;

▪   The NGO has to have a good reputation in our professional community;

▪   The NGO recognizes a need in terms of technical assistance;

▪   The NGO has to be in a growing phase OR has strong potential;

▪   The NGO operates in South-East Asia.

Well, as a matter of fact, Blue Dragon meets all those criteria, and after we finalized our investigation, we contacted them and offered some help, which was accepted on the spot. They have great programs, steady funding, yet not enough resources to build and maintain a solid information system. So we’ll take on a role in that story.

What we are doing with Blue Dragon

We started 2 months ago by offering a long-term support of at least 2 years. We are going to build for them an advanced M&E system, including information systems, electronic reporting mechanisms, live costing functions, and a web-based knowledge management solution. The first phase of that process has been the initial assessment of their M&E system, a 2-month long task. We will then discuss with their team what to start with, and how to start it.

We want to do that slowly as we want it to be organic, so, well-adapted to their needs and constraints, practical, real, and accepted. Hence the long-term perspective.

More news on that process in the coming months.

In the meantime, if you are interested in Blue Dragon, you can visit their website. If you want to donate, just go there. They even have tax-deductible mechanisms. They are pretty good.